ALBANY, N.Y. Sept. 4, 2007 - As New York's 2.8 million students head back to school, teachers are ready to build on their success raising test scores and narrowing the achievement gap - but believe more of the state's record $1.8 billion in state aid increases should be used to invest in strategies that support student learning, New York State United Teachers said.
"Teachers are eager to roll up their sleeves and begin another successful school year. They're ready to greet their new students and work hard, in partnership with parents, to meet the challenges and demands of helping children meet higher standards and master new subject matter," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi.
However, Iannuzzi said teachers also want to ensure that school districts use the state funding to lower class sizes, fund effective math and reading programs, invest in teacher training and support student learning.
"The historic commitment that the Legislature and governor made to public schools in this year's budget should be used to supplement local funds for education," Iannuzzi said. "Every dollar possible should be devoted to the classroom to improve student achievement."
NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira said the 585,000-member union is closely monitoring how districts are spending their state aid increases, with a particular focus on the 56 school districts that signed Contracts for Excellence. Those districts must use research-driven strategies to improve achievement in return for the aid increases.
"We want to be sure this unique opportunity is maximized to improve student learning and close the achievement gap," Neira said.
Meanwhile, as the school year begins, Neira noted that student achievement is improving across the state - a very positive sign.
"Our students - and our public schools - are working hard and making strong progress, although we acknowledge there is still more work to do. This is why it is essential that we direct the additional state dollars into the classroom where they can help improve student achievement, particularly in those places where students are not yet meeting the higher standards," Neira said.
NYSUT represents 585,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers; National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.